K / D Keep It Deep welcome in the new year with new energy and a new podcast from Italian born and now London based Matteo Manzini, an underground house & techno dj who co runs the party DAMAGED. Matteo is an dj we have seen around on the scene at local parties including Keep On Going, Half Baked, Cartulis Day and Undersound, so we figured the kind of vibe this gentlemen likes to pursue and explore. Not forgetting Matteo also djs with his long time partner in crime Georgio at DAMAGED. Matteo is one of those djs that exudes his feelings in the music, the chemistry and kaleidoscope of the subtle grooves do actually represent this shy but passionate character very well. Matteo comes across as a very dedicated and sincere individual, one to find on the dance floor finding his own interpretation of the music. All we will say is enjoy the challenging and well executed excursions into one of tomorrow names to watch. Check his Soundcloud link here , check the RA link for gig details here and details on the party he runs DAMAGED here. Follow K / D Keep It Deep the blog and Soundcloud for very irregular updates of the musical sorts.
K/D: Where was you born and how was it living there?
MATTEO: I was born in Bologna, Italy, grown up in a small village in the outskirts, something like 1000 inhabitants, deep countryside. The whole community at that time was heavily influenced by the local church, not extremely exciting if I look at it right now but helpful for building up a strong sense of duty, if this is a correct English expression.
K/D: Your family life, do you have brothers and sisters?
MATTEO: I have a sister, we are probably getting closer as the years pass by, sharing experiences and talking about myself to the rest of my family has never been an habit, maybe now it comes slightly easier as I’m far away from the physical point of view and it’s all about words on a display.
K/D: Music from an early age what did it look and feel like?
MATTEO: The music I used to find in my parents house was really not much and also extremely simple, just some Italian traditional pop singers, but my mum and dad supported my will of playing piano when I was 7 years old, not a real passion, I was just following what my friends were doing, I think that was a beginning of the actual path in some way. It lasted for two years, then my friends moved to football and I (sadly) did the same.
K/D: Being a teenager what culture did you explore?
MATTEO: If you mean culture in a music sense, I remember being 15 years old and having the chance through some older friends of listening to tapes coming from an Italian club called Cocoric√≤, they used to play techno and trance/progressive, everything going quite fast, like 130 BPM or so, we were in a park sitting all around a portable tape player thinking about this place and wondering which kind of persons and life style could suit such a rhythm. At some point we got old enough to get our cars and drive there, it was happening once a month or so, thousands of people on a dancefloor with a glass pyramid on top, quite a big jump from the little church oriented village I reckon.
Then I moved from techno and trance/progressive to hardcore and gabber, don’t ask me why, it was more like a random tasting of this and that, then we added heavy metal also on a side, then again slowing down to grunge.
At some point I thought “ok I’m not a teenager anymore and I can’t go on listening to 4/4 beat, that’s not a mature choice” so I tried to walk away from clubbing and the related music, but it didn’t work out as you can see.
K/D: Education and how did this affect or shape you?
MATTEO: As said in answer number 1, the environment I lived in until the age of 15 or so taught me to put duties first, like saying to myself “if you don’t finish your homework you are not allowed to go out and see your friends”, I still feel that quite strong even if moving to London helped in opening things a bit more.
K/D: When did you move to London?
MATTEO: I started coming to London from Milan, where in the meantime I moved for work reasons, in 2003, like once a month just for clubbing, staying from Saturday to Monday or Tuesday then flying back. I will always be thankful to low-cost airlines like Ryanair and easyJet, they changed the market and my life. At the same time they probably have to thank me, as big part of my money incomings went to them since then.
In 2009 I moved to London full time, it was May and I was not sure 100% of the choice (I had in my pocket a flight to go back to Italy after three weeks, just to say how brave I was) but it’s 2015 and I’m still here.
K/D: Can you describe living, djing and partying in London compared to other places?
MATTEO: I see London as a big monster who never sleeps, this is interesting but also very dangerous, you need to give yourself rules and limits and avoid to freely going with the flow, or the flow will probably put you in troubles very soon.
Living, DJing and partying here go then in my mind with the same logic: I need to know I’m able to decide to go home from a party even if the party hasn’t finished yet, or to be patient and refuse a booking as a DJ if the situation is not 100% something I feel comfortable with. The opposite face of this is that maybe I’m not going fast enough and I’m missing some professional chances, it’s an effective risk I’m aware of, but I prefer to feel an idea of balance around myself and my things.
K/D: Damaged and Georgio your partner can you explain this?
MATTEO: DAMAGED started in June 2009, one month after I moved here, because I had no gigs and the easiest way was the put up my own party, in this way I had the chance to play music in public at regular intervals: not a great poetry behind, I know, just some simple and basic needs.
I used to see Georgio everywhere since the first secretsundaze I attended, it was 2003, but we were not actual friends and we have never really spoken more than two minutes in a row. I looked for him through MySpace and asked for a meeting, it happened in Camden as he was working there at that time: I explained my idea saying I already had a small venue agreeing to let us play, and the name was ready too, coming from a tattoo I have on my wrist. Also the chosen day was Sunday because there were very few parties happening on Sunday in 2009 so ideally a bigger free audience of wondering clubbers. Luckily he said yes and few days after the first DAMAGED happened: I guess we gathered no more than thirty people for that one, not a meaningful quantity, but we had fun.
I learnt many things from Georgio since then and amongst them the one always coming to my mind as first is that the success of a party is not measured by the number of people attending: starting from the fact that it can be applied to life out of partying too, I hope DAMAGED has been perceived through the years as an exemplification of this concept.
K/D: The music you place and your key musical and non musical influences?
MATTEO: I play what makes my body move when listening to music, the combination of human material and sonic frequencies never lies and I think you need to be honest and go with the intersection of those two parts: I’m a clubber first of all, and a DJ under development as second.
K/D: The podcast can you explain the journey and also the spoken word moments?
MATTEO: I recorded it in November 2014 and I think it totally reflected myself at that time.
First of all I wanted something not to easy to mix (and you can feel the technical problems in some part of it 🙂 ) as I learned in these years that taking risks is half of the job progression when DJing.
I chose tracks reflecting my answer number 9, I’m listening to it now while writing and it still works in making me move on the chair even if two months passed by so I admit I am satisfied with it.
The spoken part is taken from Twin Peaks first series, in general I love written and spoken words and I try to add layers of them in my DJ sets to tracks which sound a bit too dry or anyway repetitive to my brain. Twin Peaks was a big shock when the Italian television streamed it for the very first time in 1990, nothing like that existed before, at least not to my eyes. Also, 1990 was the same period of the tapes from Cocoric√≤ I was saying about in my answer number 4, so everything makes sense in my tidy and balanced mind.
K/D: Where is Matteo at right now, what are you feeling and how will your story continue?
MATTEO: If you mean professionally, I reached a point I could only dream about while planning the first DAMAGED almost six years ago and I’m very grateful to London and partly to my sense of duty for this: now I feel I can almost call myself a “DJ”, not there yet but maybe not so far from the target.
At the same time I’m not stopping, I will keep on working and see what feelings and satisfactions the 4/4 music can still bring to the little kid once going to church.
K/D: Can you give me some of non musical influences across art that inspire you? which djs /producers do you admire and find inspiration from as we see each other at certain events, for instance Fabric with Ricardo etc?
MATTEO: I admit I don’t have a huge art knowledge out of music, at least not as big as I would love to have. What normally happens is that every once in a while I bump into something, in a museum, at a temporary exhibition, through a friend or even online, and I just like it, or anyway I feel the need of knowing more about what I’m seeing. If I have to translate this into explicit individuals I would say Francis Bacon, Pablo Picasso, David Foster Wallace and Alessandro Baricco (if writing is a form of art).
Going back to the 4/4 music field, I would say with no doubts I admire Rhadoo and Ricardo Villalobos as DJs and again Ricardo Villalobos and Pedro as producers.
Rhadoo because of his music selection, his technical skills and the infinite layered transactions which makes impossible to understand what track starts or ends where: I can think of his sets as an ocean, it apparently moves slowly but it comes to get you and there’s no way out once you are in the middle. Also, his behaviour in the DJ booth represents my idea of professionalism: no hands in the air, no chatting around, no girls or photos or blah blah, just an eye on the dancefloor and two on his music, three in total.
Talking about Ricardo Villalobos, I haven’t missed a set from him in fabric since I moved to London and it’s always worthy to see the amount of risks he takes while DJing, which music directions he is going through, especially on room 1 dreamy sound system, and, through his unreleased tracks, what happens in his brain in that particular period. Also, his physical presence has something magical: using Georgio words, “he is the big oak we are all inhaling frequencies from”, kind of perfect definition of Ricardo Villalobos in my opinion in terms of the man leading our scene.
K/D: Damaged has been going since 2009 can you explain the music policy, and over xmas you and Georgio played all night b2b, how do you find going b2b, do you only do this with Georgio, who brings what energy?
MATTEO: At DAMAGED we try first of all not to impose short sets, at the moment two hours and a half is the minimum, this is in my opinion a way of professional progression and a topic we are trying to expand even to other parties: when we deal with a booking proposal there is always a point when this comes out and I found funny that more and more promoters are aware of it thinking “here we are again with Georgio and Matteo trying to grow their set length”
In terms of composition of the line-up we usually have one international guest and one local DJ and we try to consider the human factor of each choice together with the music aspect: if the DJ booth produces joy it’s easier to spread that on the dancefloor.
Playing back to back with Georgio is a challenge and a pleasure at the same time: our music choices are different but very respectful of each other’s, I think we learnt during the years to play for the other one. I remember there was at the beginning a time where the style or the (short) length of his tracks were making me anxious, now it’s more like a test to myself in saying “let’s see how can I get alive out of this”.
K/D: Do you play any instruments, or make music?
MATTEO: I bought some music machines during the years but up to now I have been using them just for exercises, nothing really worthy to have a listen to.
K/D: you mentioned earlier about going home when your ready, there have always been lots of parties, after parties and now this new trend of one day mini festivals lasting 12 to 18 hours how do you not stay up and out for days like so many do?
MATTEO: I stay out sometimes for days too and I don’t consider myself an absolute exception from that point of view, don’t get me wrong, but at the same time I know I have interesting things to be done at home and they are waiting for me there. It’s mainly a point of not acting just as a consumer, and after a while having the need to produce some output, whatever it means, for myself and maybe for the people around me: it’s about balance, again.
K/D: Talk to me about the Romanians there sound and your view on it?
MATTEO: If with “Romanians” you are referring to all the people from Romania involved in our scene, I’m happy to see how a whole country can stand up through music and find a way to fight everyday problems, dreaming about a shiny future.
If you otherwise refer to the three RPR, they are my professional reference, Rhadoo in particular as said in answer number 12, and also the cause of an infinite series of nights and days of outstanding music all over Europe. Apart from being a matter of frequencies in the sound they propose, and there is not a lot I can explain about it if not feelings, what I appreciate is their technical skills, closer to perfection, the logic behind their sets, or at least what my brain perceives there, and the amount of hours they can work without apparent physical tiredness: in most of the moments playing music becomes for them closer to breathing, a completely natural action.
MATTEO: Thanks for the interest, for the podcast request and for the interview, it was fun to build both of them.